I am delivering letters from High School students to the Tweed Courthouse today for the Kid’s Protest Project. They speak eloquently about the harm the $428 million budget cuts will have on their schools and their lives. Over 100 Stuyvesant and Edward R. Murrow High School students participated. We received this flood of letters in only one week, during which the students also had exams, Regents, APs and SATs as well as final projects and performances. New York City should be proud of its children. The students organized the protest themselves and communicated the need to write letters over Facebook.
Here is a sample of a couple of letters (remember these are 14 – 17 year olds):
From Julia at Stuy:
"…In reading up on these Public School Budget Cuts through a variety of sources I have heard many explanations, excuses, and possible reasons. The one thing that strikes me, again and again, is that, regardless of who needs or who deserves or who we didn't help enough in the past, the LAST thing this city needs right now is to lessen the emphasis on quality education. It should be the frontrunner, the all important, the vital key to the very continuation of our city. Children are the future - do you want an intelligent future, or the one you are creating?..."
from Jack at Stuy:
"…. I personally believe that while the first impression a school makes upon someone will always be its academic integrity, the true soul of the school is lies within what else it has available for its students; the clubs, the teams, the government, etc. By taking away a school’s funds, you are also taking away from its soul, which, no matter what their level of involvement, is felt by each and every student to pass through the halls each day…"
from Matthew at Stuy:
"… the city is planning on cutting an additional $955,000 (from Stuyvesant’s budget). Mayor Bloomberg said that this was beneficial, as schools would have to consider what to keep and what to cut. That’s actually a smart plan in a big company or business that wants to maximize profits. However, the education system is not a business. If courses and extracurricular activities are cut, then we will have a huge loss, as would be put in business terms…"
Tasfia from Stuy:
"…Please don't take away the things that make people like me want to go to school. The things that make us want to learn, to enrich our minds, and content our thirst for knowledge. The people at Stuyvesant are exceptional. We take advantage of all we possibly can. From full period days and afterschool classes, almost everyone I know will do anything to fulfill their want of more. Almost every student in our high school is in numerous clubs or teams which they manage to stay dedicated to even with their immense workload. It can be fairly easy to slack off, to not apply yourself, but everyone at our school, and probably many people in schools all around, just want to be the most intelligent us we can possibly be. Please don't take our drive to learn away from us…"
Amal at Stuy:
"… If the education level goes down, people will be leaving New York City like crazy. No one wants to live in a city where their kids cannot get the best education possible, especially in a city like New York. Budget cuts will affect not only schools but the entire state and possibly even the whole country…"
and at Murrow, Matthew writes:
"… Programs like Murrow’s drama program, as well as its great art and music programs, gives students the chance to do something besides sitting on their couch after school watching MTV. They’re able to use their free time to not only do something productive yet they are able to do things they love, things that might not even be available for them to do if their school weren’t able to offer it.
Yet with the large budget cuts that NYC schools are receiving, programs, clubs, afterschool activities, and electives will be negatively affected if not altogether cut. While one could easily shrug this off and say there are other places where students can further pursue acting, dance, art, etc, there are many students who are unable to afford the high tuition fees of an acting studio or a dancing school. That is why free classes and programs offered by schools are such a great thing. They give every student the chance to do things they love…"
Ashley at Murrow:
... I am also a member of one of the about one hundred clubs that Murrow offers. If the budget cuts occur, clubs will not be able to have funding so we could do good things, such as the environmental corps. Who had started a school-wide recycling plan in January, which has been working successfully, if the budget cuts occur, we won't be able to do good things for the world and ourselves…"
Hannah at Murrow:
"… I love Italian. I am going to Italian III next year. When I heard that you were going to cut AP Italian, my heart broke…"
and read the full letter from Vicky, a freshman at Murrow who is 14,
“I am currently a freshman at Edward R. Murrow High School, and I am one of the many students concerned about the budget cuts that will be taking a real toll on our schools next fall.
Not only are we given fewer opportunities, but also the money that is being taken away from our education is going towards giving us standardized tests and grades for our school. Growing up in this generation, “scantron” is unfortunately part of my vocabulary. I have more boxes of number two pencils in my drawer than I do art projects. During the course of my school career I have learned one thing. My amazing teachers have taught me more than any 60-question test ever could. These people work for almost no money, but take on the largest responsibility for the future of the world. If budget cuts take away teachers in order to have enough money to give us tests I feel that is the biggest mistake that can ever be made. One of the students in our country now will be the President one day. I would feel more comfortable knowing I had a president who once ran a fundraiser in their school for an after school club or one that was in a business class and in Advanced Placement History, than a president that knows “which of the following sentences is an example of personification.” A, B, C and D is not a large enough vocabulary for a UN ambassador or scientist that will find a new eco-friendly energy source. If it’s a choice between our classes and teachers or a test? I think the answer that will benefit the students and our future is most definitely answer A –give us back our classes, clubs and sports.”